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July 4, 2011

Here is a wish list for Canada's 154th birthday: What Canada most needs is more religion and more babies. It needs less abuse — sexual, verbal and physical — and fewer divorces. It needs less TV watching and less time on the Internet. Canada needs less emphasis on individual rights and more commitment to community responsibilities. Less gambling and more sharing would be good too.

Canada would benefit if there were less pornography and less exploitive advertising. It would also benefit if there was a strong emphasis on education in the Great Books, if everyone got half an hour of exercise a day and if we had a weekly Sabbath when everything shut down and everyone gave the day to rest, reflection and prayer.

Canada would be a happier country if there were less intimidation in hockey and other pro sports, and if minor sports were not so highly competitive. More road hockey and fewer arenas might not be a bad idea too. If motorists saw each other as companions on the journey rather than as obstacles to be driven around (or over), that too would improve our happiness quotient.

Canada would have a brighter future if, in each family with young children, one parent (not necessarily mom) did not work outside the home. Less consumption of booze, illegal drugs and food would also improve our national well-being. So would an end to abortion.

Life would surely be improved if companies made the good of their employees and respect for community needs and the environment their top priorities, even more important than maximizing short-term profits for their shareholders.

If all those things happened, Canada would be as prosperous and free as it is today, probably more so. We might be blessed with greater social equality too. Our politicians also might be more inclined to legislate in ways that improve the long-term common good rather than cater to the desires of vocal or well-heeled interests.

Yet few, if any, of those items fall primarily within the purview of government. In fact, when government legislates these things, it typically stirs up national angst. This is not to say there should be no legislation on these matters, but only that national happiness is more in the hands of the people than in those of the government.

Something approaching utopia is within our reach. Yet we do not make the collective effort to grasp it. Of course, the effort will not happen without leadership. Yet, when we talk about leadership, our eyes typically fall on elected officials. Their responsibility, however, is merely to run the government, a more pedestrian exercise.

For Canada to find its greatness, it needs visible moral leadership. We don't know how to find and elevate that leadership. Yet doing so is perhaps our greatest need. Somehow, we must find a way.